21 Dec 2004, Comments (0)

You can’t get the wood, you know

Author: Helen

What’s your favourite kind of shop? (I know you’re sick of shopping by now.)

I know women are portrayed in the media as loving shoe shops and clothing boutiques above all else. But since I was a wee sprog, I’ve had different loves and they have persisted.

Stationery shops and art material shops were the best. Hard-covered journals and notebooks lurked on the shelves begging me to take them home and fill them with ideas which always seemed so much better in inchoate form than they did when written. (I’m no luddite; give me the cut and paste and delete of a computer over longhand any day.) A new pen was always an affordable treat and sketchpads and pieces of card waited like virgin brides for conte crayon or a fine black marker. An array of dry pastels in every colour I’d thought of, and many I hadn’t, was a symbol of infinite possibilities.

Hardware stores were a close second*. Sometimes, not even second. I still lose time if I venture into the Mitre 10 or Home Hardware on my smash-and-grab Saturday shopping run, where the aim, never realised, is to do EVERYTHING in an hour. I’m seduced by shelves of materials, tools, paint and gadgets. I drift and dream of projects I’ll never complete.

Bunnings is – was – the king of hardware stores to get lost in.

It’s vast, and it’s unusually full of stuff even for a hardware store. I’d find things in Bunnings that I hadn’t seen anywhere else, except maybe Dimmeys / Forges (our eccentric Melbourne chain). Small rectangular galvanised iron water tanks for $300 which can fit into the wasted space between the side of the house and the fence. Sisal matting on continuous roll (cut to the size you want). A whole aisle of crafty stuff. 2,000 types of stick and bamboo blinds. 1,000 kinds of mulch…

I haven’t browsed Bunnings for a couple of years now. It’s a subsidiary of Wesfarmers, which in turn is linked to Gunns limited. Who- if you’re from out of the country- is suing environmentalists who object to its woodchipping the Tarkine and other irreplaceable Tasmanian treasures. So I’ve been wasting time at the Mitre 10, instead. But this innocent pleasure will have to go, too.


The Spouse is in a quandary. She is so upset by the legal action taken by Gunns, the big Tasmanian logging company, against sundry environmentalists that she will never shop at Mitre 10 again, Mitre 10 being a Gunns outfit.

“But,” she wails, “I already boycott Bunnings because they are owned by Wesfarmers, who are denuding the west of its jarrah forests. Where will I find an ethical ironmonger?”

“Never you mind, my precious. Wesfarmers are out of jarrah logging. They have sold their jarrah business, lock, stock and sawmill.”

“Really? To whom?”
“Guess?”
“Er, not to Gunns?”

“Yep. Even though the WA Government offered an $8 million inducement to anyone who would buy Sotico, Wesfarmers’ jarrah operation, and set up a furniture company near the forest, the decision was made to flog off the enterprise to Gunns. Gunns’ boss, Mr Gay, says that they are going to upgrade the sawmilling section of the jarrah business.


I’ll be taking a hard look at the provenance of the seductive paper and notebooks in those stationery shops, too.

Gunns Limited isn’t just chipping the great forests of Tasmania – it’s putting participatory democracy through the mulcher. Gunns’ actions are not only counter-productive (giving oxygen to the opposition, as some have pointed out). To borrow a phrase from the Right, they’re just bloody un-Australian.

*Hon. mention to music shops (as in, musical instruments) where practically nothing is affordable but everything just cries out to be taken home and the staff are all obsessed.

Comments (0)

  • Sedgwick says:

    Will comment at length … what a change that would be :0) … later. At the moment I’m only up to road-testing #343 of the range of 7,493,000 wonderful, beautiful, incomparable Tria marker pens.

    I may be some time. (But when you’re a pig in shit both pigs and time fly.)

  • Greg says:

    You’ll just have to shop the independents now. They can be surly, but they’ve got what you need, even if you have to ask for it. We’ll hope for the best at the stationery and art supply shops.

  • David Tiley says:

    The little stationery shops are actually better. Small faves that have been around for yonks.

    I read somewhere???? yesterday that Mitre 10 is grumpily pointing out that Gunns is an investor in the Tas branch of the organisation and only in a minority way anyway.

    Fair enough defence. But Gunns are pricks. And the roll call of directors is an unpleasant list of Tasmanian heroes like Robin Grey.

  • Helen says:

    The little stationery shops are actually better. Small faves that have been around for yonks.

    Pat and Darren’s on Somerville Road, Yarraville, next to Tony’s Pies. It’s a cornucopia. And Pat will say things that tell you she remembers your kids as babies.

  • Sedgwick says:

    … and she still wonders why you left them on the side of the hill.

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